RAC Cars News


Alpina Turns 50

By raccars Published

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Alpina is a curious mixture of a company. It is a specialist BMW tuner that is also recognised as a car manufacturer according to the German Ministry of Transport. The firm builds cars based upon BMWs as an independent company. However, it works so closely with the Bavarian firm that BMW production lines use Alpina processes and sells Alpina branded cars in its own dealerships. Alpina owners can take their cars to BMW dealers for servicing and repairs, including those under warranty.

The firm was established by 29 year old Burkard Bovensiepen as Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen KG in 1965. Burkard came from an industrialist family with a background in office machinery production, but used his own stock market success to develop Alpina. He started off with carburettors and cylinder heads and by 1970 the firm had 70 employees on the books.

The Alpina name gained traction from 1967, when it was trademarked and began to use its current logo. Over the following decade, track success ensued, including a 1970 win at the European Touring Car Championship, plus the important Spa 24 Hours, the German Hillclimb Championship and a number of other track and rally racing championships in the same year.

Alpina cars have been raced by major names including James Hunt, Derek Bell, Niki Lauda, Jacky Ickx, Hans Stuck and Brian Muir.

The firm retired from racing in 1988, when its focus changed to producing its very own cars; conversions of original BMWs badged Alpina. Last year Alpina built 1,700 cars in a new record. There are no ambitions for further growth, with the company now run by the son of its founder, Andreas Bovensiepen, who intends to continue to produce limited numbers of highly individual performance cars that are nonetheless drivable on a daily basis.

The company's trademarks are its 20 spoke alloys, a patented metallic paint called 'Alpina Blue' and its superior quality interior fitments. Each car bears a metal plate confirming its Alpina origins and has a unique serial number. All cars use an automatic transmission but boast higher torque and a more luxurious finish than BMW's own M-branded high performance models.

To celebrate its 50th birthday, Alpina is producing B5 and B6 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 special editions. Just 50 of each model will be produced and will be more powerful than anything Alpina has ever made before. Statistics include a top speed of 204mph, 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and a power output just under 600bhp.

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